RECIPE – Homemade “Ajvar”

By Henry Gould – Oct 25th, 2018

This summer I was lucky enough to spend a week in Croatia, and in addition to the amazing weather, beaches, wine and architecture, the food really blew me away. Everything was a cool mix between Eastern European and Italian, which makes perfect sense given Croatia’s geographic location.

Ajvar is a condiment they serve with a lot of food, usually grilled meats or on the famous “Cevapi” sandwiches. The specific ingredients and ratios can vary, but the basis of it is always roasted red peppers and oil (Croatia has amazing olive oil, so I use that). I’m sure there are ferocious, passionate debates amongst the Balkan countries about who invented Ajvar, so I will stay out of those waters and just say the Croatian versions were lovely.

You can buy Ajvar in European delis and speciality stores, but it’s honestly so simple to make at home, and will taste a lot fresher. Can also be a great gift to give around the Holidays. Particularly lovely with a charcuterie board…. and it’s vegan so everyone is welcome to enjoy!

Ajvar

  • 2-3 Red peppers
  • 2-3 spicy red chiles
  • 2-3 whole garlic cloves in their skins
  • Dried chili flakes
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Coriander Seeds, ground

Take your red peppers, de-seed and stem them, then put the pieces on a roasting tray along with the spicy red chiles, garlic and onion. Roast in a 400F oven for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves (they might burn) then continue cooking for another 20 minutes until the vegetables get some good color without burning.

Transfer all the peppers and onions to a food processor. Take the garlic out of it’s skins and add in, along with a pinch of ground corainder seeds, black pepper, dried chili flakes and salt. Add a generous amount of olive oil – this will help the mixture emulsify and become more cohesive.

Turn on the food processor and whiz for 30 seconds until broken down but still a bit chunky. Add a little red wine vinegar, blitz for a second, then taste. Ideally it should be rich, spicy, subtly acidic from the vinegar and decently salty. It is a condiment after all.

Adjust the seasonings to your liking, then store in a jar in the fridge. Goes great on sandwiches, or as a dip, or with grilled meat and fish.

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